From eye witness account to prime time news

There are very few Twitter accounts that I have set up for phone alerts. Aside from @comms2point0 the rest are academics or academic institutes doing research on disaster comms, behavioural economics and journalism.

Over the last couple of days the Nieman Lab has been combining two of those areas. The first I tweeted about this morning is research on how the Boston bombing broke, analysing the timeline of the tweets and the retweets. This shows that the story was broken by eye witnesses at the scene – unwitting citizen journalists. Their initial tweets one mustered a few retweets within their social networks.

The next phase was those tweets being picked up by the media which, with more followers gained more retweets. They also added more weight to the story as they are a trusted source.

The report highlighted the fact that it took an hour for the facts to be corroborated by the government. The conclusion was that this type of story is broken by the public but is verified and amplified by the media.

Well, I agree as far as it goes but this is exactly what my Masters thesis researched and I would say that they should have factored in the Twitter response from the first responders involved – sometimes they have just as many, if not more followers than some media accounts. By using Followerwonk you can work out how many common followers accounts have. When I compared South Lanarkshire Council followers with those of Strathclyde Police and The Evening Times they were very different with less than 100 people following all three accounts. In my thesis I proposed that in emergency situations we should all work together using common hashtags, embedded Twitter streams on each other’s websites and automation tools such as IFTTT and TwitterFeed.

Also in Scotland all first responders now have verified Twitter accounts – not something all media outlets have so the public know whose information is more trustworthy.

If you’re particularly interested in the emergency response side of things the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma is also worth a look.

On Monday they’re running a symposium called Sandy Hook and Beyond: Breaking News, Trauma and Aftermath. US regional and national journalists will be joined by community leaders, Sandy Hook families, mental health experts and policy advocates to share perspectives, discuss lessons learned and point the way towards responsible news coverage going forward. They will be live streaming the event – I’m not sure if they’re recording it for those of us who’ll be asleep while it’s on but I’ve asked the question on Twitter.

*Word just came back that it will be recorded and will be available here 10 minutes after the event finishes. You heard it here first!*

Today I have learned:

  • there’s a new 4th indicator for a stroke
  • 1st is to smile – worry if it’s crooked
  • 2nd is to ask them to say something simple like ‘chicken soup’ – worry if it’s not coherent
  • 3rd is to lift both hands above their head – worry of they can’t
  • 4th is to get them to stick out their tongue – worry if it’s twisted
  • share this with 10 people and the chances are you’ll save a life

Today’s track:

Today’s recipe

Posh quichewpid-20130418_184426.jpg

Serves 4

I had a packet of Parma ham and some mushrooms needing used up so I thought I’d make quiche. Normally I’d use shop bought pastry but I forgot so I had to make it from scratch which turned out to be a lot less hassle and quicker than I thought it would be.



200g plain flour

100g cold butter cut into tiny chunks

1 egg yolk

a little milk


a little butter

1 onion, sliced

a garlic clove, chopped

a handful of mushrooms, sliced

3 eggs

200mls double cream

a couple of handfuls of grated Gran Padano cheese

2 tbsp chopped chives

a sprinkling of thyme leaves


Pastry: Heat the oven to 200C/Gas 6. Put the flour and butter in a bowl and rub together with your finger tips until it looks like sand. Add the egg yolk and bring together with a little milk but not too much or the pastry will shrink in the oven. Once you have it all together roll into a fat sausage. Cut into slices then push the pieces into a flan dish, using the heat of your fingers to work the patchwork together so there are no holes.

Add a layer of baking paper and put some baking beans or dried chickpeas on top. Put in the oven for 20 minutes. Take out, remove the beans/chickpeas and paper and put back into the oven for 5 minutes.

Filling: Melt the butter in a small frying pan and cook the onion, garlic and mushrooms.

In a bowl mix the eggs, cream, cheese and herbs.

Once the pastry base is ready spread on a layer of the mushroom mix, then a layer of  Parma ham ripped into strips then add the egg mixture.

Cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes.

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